What’s New–harvesting lemons, time for a haircut, container gardening

We got this lovely charcuterie board, featured in our cover picture, for our anniversary in February and finally I’ve found a reason to use it!  I was going to wait until we had guests around and drape it with meat and cheese, but decided to show off the lemons we’ve grown.  Every year our tree gives us a few more–this year was no exception.  I believe it’s been about eight years since we started our lemon tree from seed.

You can see our lemon tree and get a delicious Ina Garten recipe for Lemon Napoleons here  

Our friends purchased our charcuterie board at Macy’s at Christmas time –I don’t see it on the site anymore, but you can buy it on Amazon  here for $45.00  (not an affiliate link).

So let’s get down to what’s new around here, it’s been awhile.

Container garden 2020 is in–this year I have:

  • oregano
  • rosemary
  • french lavender
  • marigolds
  • bee balm
  • fuschia
  • lamb’s ear
  • hibiscus
  • tomatoes
  • pumpkins
  • green beans
  • carrots
  • peonies
  • and
  • a pepper plant
  • sunflower
  • zinnias

I’ll have to take some more pictures, I’ve been doing more videos lately than picture taking–so I’ll get them up in my next post.

Well, it’s been three months since my last haircut and though I survived just fine it’s time to venture out to where I get my hair done–less than a 1/2 mile from home, mask up and get it done. Good thing is it’s just a haircut and like everyone in the state she has guidelines to follow, to which  I know she will, and my hair which is now shaggy and shoulder-length will get a long overdue cut. Salons have been open for awhile here. I’ve just been putting it off–but with precautions taken I will be just fine. Thankfully our state is starting to come down in its numbers which is a promising sign for all of us.

Meat is still expensive–nearly 4 times the regular cost and some meat not at market at all. We cannot get roasting chickens from Just Bare–there are none to be had. The brand of lunch meat my husband eats is also not available as well as certain sausages, bacon, or ham. I still cannot find clorox wipes, but have found gloves for sale (5X reg. price) masks for sale (1.00 a piece) which for now isn’t a bad price–both at Walmart. Still to this day I cannot order toilet paper, paper towel, masks, cleaning products, gloves, or certain foodstuffs online.

That’s what is new around here–summer is almost here, the heat is starting, parks are overcrowded, very few people following any guidelines since the beginning around here, sadness all around the world in the news, and a lot of hurting. The world needs healing and I pray wherever you are you are safe and well.

Until next time here is our boy watching out over his territory–which includes birds of all kind, rabbits, other cats, neighbor dogs, and a muskrat!

Fall is fast approaching–harvest then cleanup—100 tomatoes this year! 🐛🍅🍅

Happy First Day of Fall!! 🍁🍂🍁🍂🍁

Lots of pumpkins in the store to choose from!!

I bought a hubbard squash and a white, green blue, and orange pumpkin. I plan to carve them out and then feed them while still fresh to the birds and other outside critters.

Last photos of this years container garden–

Last of my tomatoes ripening–

Last summer Farmer’s market haul–

Some pretty good food cooking with fresh produce–

Some interesting things I learned with this years container garden were pretty interesting. I started with three tomato plants planted in organic soil. I bought the plants at a nursery that I’ve been buying plants at for years. I also spent $34 on a large geranium plant that looked dead by day two on my deck. After a careful inspection I found two of the plants in the geranium bush to be rotten so  I replanted the entire large geranium plant. I then went out and purchased two tomato plants from Home Depot and two tomato plants from Walmart of which I did not plant in organic soil. A few weeks later I purchased some herbs and a single geranium plant. Once the flowers were on all my tomato plants I was pretty sure I was going to be seeing some amazing results. A short time later all the plants I’d purchased from my favorite nursery were dead and I was down to five tomato plants, some herbs, and my geranium plant. These plants were planted in potting soil called Expert Gardener and it’s sold at Walmart. It must work great for everyone else too, because it was always sold out when I went in to purchase more. By summer’s end my tomato plants produced over 100 tomatoes—mostly salad and cherry tomatoes. My geranium is still blooming, my herbs were absolutely awesome this year. My butterfly bush and the tropical flower I bought in June are thriving–prettiest hardiest plants ever and to think both were basically dead when I bought them! So mixed feelings on all this as I spent an incredible amount of money on nursery plants and organic soil and had zero results.  On top of that in years gone by having spent an enormous amount of money on fertilizers, soil, and such also very little in the way of production. Yes this year I had more plants so rightly so more tomatoes—in years gone by I had two to three plants and they produced between 10-20 cherry tomatoes in total. I have a lot to think about going forward. This was my last year for growing tomatoes on our deck. We will have one more spring here as our move has been delayed by the health issue I’ve been dealing with all summer. I am getting better but it is slow going. Next year’s garden will be mostly flowers for bees and bush beans!!

That’s it for gardening.

Stayed tuned for my next post about School & Farm : country living in the 70’s.

 

Patio Gardening Summer 2019 Week 13-15

My patio garden is winding down–my tomatoes are all hanging from the vine, waiting for the right temperature to ripen, and then as they do I’ll come along and gladly pick them to eat for b’fast, lunch, and dinner. Forty in all which isn’t bad for five plants that are producing. Both of the pepper plants died from being battered around in the wind–so they’ll be none of them. But the wonderful herbs, esp. my rosemary right now, more than make up for it. Our butterfly bush is full of beautiful blooms and we’ve seen many butterflies on it these past few days. Another year of gardening and feeding the birds has almost come to an end. We still have a few orioles and also their young, as well as all colors of finches and their young. We’ve gone through two cases of food feeding them and oh the hummingbirds–they’ve really loved the homemade syrup I’ve made for them all spring/summer. Each year around this time it is almost as if the hummingbirds take a mental picture of our deck, saving it somewhere in their senses, so that they remember who will feed them again all next year. They will have such a long, long journey to travel to get away from here for winter and then such a long, tiresome journey to get back to us. This spring when they first arrived all the birds looked so haggard, but now they look happy, healthy, and restored. It makes my heart very happy to see this year after year.



Our first tomato!

Our butterfly bush–

Farmers Market Hauls–

That’s all for now–Happy August!!

Summertime on the farm in the 1970s

If you drove past our farm in the 1970s you would have seen two things right away in our front yard–my dad’s old B (John Deere) and our tree swing.

Summer in the 1970s was a time of absolutely nothing to keep us indoors except sickness– and even that didn’t do it sometimes. Mother would be hard pressed at days end to get us indoors as we were so busy running around in the dark, feet wet from dew, chasing lightning bugs and scaring each other. Whether it was bike riding on gravel backroads, riding to the store and buying lollies, or dipping my toes in a wading pool or better yet running through the sprinkler–seventies summers were the real thing. –A time period now only revived for period piece sitcoms or movies.  One none of us will ever really experience together again except in memory– of growing up on our family farm and summertime in the 1970s.

I grew up in a valley full of farming families in the 1970s. A time where television meant one channel for us, if we were lucky, and if our antennae wasn’t acting up due to wind—weather was our televisions greatest enemy in the 70s. Of course we only got NBC which for the most part had lots, and lots of sports–not our family’s favorite thing. Saturday mornings, bugs bunny, and after school specials were a highlight for us. We lived thirteen miles from the nearest town which for years had just a mercantile not an actual grocery store. There you could only buy the staples and most of them were limited or outdated. So we would drive over the hill and through the woods to another small town and buy groceries—again from a mercantile but this one actually had stocked shelves and a butcher shop in back. I have great memories of walking the wood plank floors of this stores three aisles and eyeballing the large barrels full of candy at checkout. If we were good we’d be allowed to go into the Rexall across the street and I’d happily browse the magazine racks–my favorite thing, buy the newest Tiger Beat, and a pack of gum if I had any change left over. On Sundays if my dad could find some free time we would take a drive up to this same town and get rootbeer floats at the local A& W.

Life in any year, every generation, has had its hardships and the 70s was no exception. Farming had some rough patches in the 70s and money was tight the whole while I was growing up. My dad had two farms, which was quite a bit of land for a small scale farmer, milk cows, beef cattle, and crops to put in and then harvest seven months out of the year. We didn’t take vacations, but sometimes we would drive to see something of interest–clock museum, steam engine museum and parade, historical marker–things like that would take all of us from the farm on a Sunday afternoon and give dad a break. An ice cream cone, hamburger, or a rootbeer float was always our treat before we headed back home.

Food in the 70s was not at all what food has been for the last 40-50 years. For most people there was no such thing as fast food. I was 18 when they built the first McDonald’s in one of the larger cities we visited to buy school supplies every year. School supplies another favorite memory of mine–also, when Levis first came out in this city and we all took a trip into it to this large warehouse style store and asked to see a pair of Levi jeans. I remember the store was owned by a family and two brothers worked in sales. When we asked to see a pair the one brother whipped out a measuring tape, measured my waist, and then from a large stack of denim jeans tossed a folded pair at me. That was all there was to it–no changing rooms at all. If they were too long, and they were, then you got your mom or grandma to hem them for you. School supplies were purchased at Osco Drug which was right next door. In grade school I think crayons, pencils, and an eraser were probably all we were required to bring. Once in high school we were then required a notebook for each class, book covers for the textbooks handed out, and pencils.

Back to 70s food- there was absolutely no such thing as prepared food until around 1979/1980. I remember this because our neighbors, whom I babysat for, began to purchase microwaves and Banquet chicken/pot pies/ and chicken dinners were introduced in local grocery stores. I loved Banquet chicken !! My mother probably had a microwave by the time I graduated high school, but never ever bought tv dinners or Banquet chicken to microwave in it. She likely used it to warm up tea or coffee as I honestly don’t ever remember it being used for anything else. Prepared foods were frowned upon by most if you were home and able to cook (as you always had been cooking) with staples, items from your garden, and of course your local butcher shop to supply you with everything you needed.

Once our garden started producing supper meals were sliced tomatoes still warm from the summer sun, cantaloupe, mac salad, and Wyler’s lemonade. When strawberries were in season there was lots of sliced berries, angel food cake, and of course everyone’s favorite–strawberry jello with sliced strawberries and cool whip on top. Lunch when we were younger was whenever we could hear my dad coming down the hill by our farm on his tractor. If it was a hot, humid day, he’d be standing up on his tractor all the way down the hill until he pulled into the driveway. Once or twice a summer my grandma and mom would put on a spread out on our picnic table and everyone would eat supper together outside. There would be a cold cut plate with cheese, white bread with butter, strawberry jello, pickles–usually watermelon pickles, and mac or potato salad. As a treat maybe a bag of plain Old Dutch potato chips. Mom would put a can of budweiser in the fridge for dad with a couple of cans of rootbeer for us to share.  Sometimes as a treat she would buy cones for ice cream cones and we would get one or two scoops of butter pecan, or neopolitan, or just plain vanilla. These were simple times and treats like this were a real luxury. Another treat was popcorn which wasn’t made very often, but when it was there were smiles all around. We tried making it in saucepans, air poppers–but what finally worked was when Jiffy made the popcorn you placed on the stove burner and moved back and forth until all the kernels were popped.

Life though busy was a slowed down version of life today. Our phone rang when one of the elders wanted to gossip. In the early days when I was nine or ten years old we still had the party line. There were certain rings that indicated when the call was for you. I’m not sure anyone ever went by that as all I remember was mom or grandma picking the phone up and then setting it back in its cradle right away. The phone was used for emergencies only unless as I said someone rang you. In our house the radio was on all the time and on a channel were there was non-stop grain reports, country music, and Paul Harvey at dinner time. By the way dinner time was the noon meal, supper was the evening meal, and lunch was the sandwich and milk dad grabbed before he went down to milk both in morning and evening.

Night time in the summer in our valley was a delightful orchestra of whipporwill, distant hound dogs barking, sometimes our dog barking, peepers (sometimes bull frogs), and cows mooing lowly. The smells ranged from fresh cut hay, to grain, to soil, rain/river, and manure. All of which I miss to this day. Every time I smell fresh cut hay I’m back home looking out my bedroom window planning my future self/life all the while smelling hay, hearing peepers, sleeping by whipporwill, and rising with the sound of a tractor start.

Just before school started it was fair time. I was in 4-H and always entered flowers, baked goods, and something from the garden. My grandma often helped me with the flower arranging and mom with the baked good. The fair was usually held a week or two before school started so if we got new clothing–which was rare, we sometimes wore it to the fair. With our new Levis, when they came into fashion, one would avoid all stains etc. as you didn’t want to wash them before the first day of school. Washing them would take some of the denim dye out and also make them less stiff–stiff dark denim was a thing once upon a time with no fringes, no holes, and absolutely no wear ! lol The fair was bright lights, lots of noise, ferris wheels, 4-H ribbons, trying to win big teddy bears– I always won the stuffed banana, and eating cotton candy. Oh and stopping in the 4-h barn for a hamburger and boy watching–lots of boy watching. Innocent, easy, summer time fun.

These are my memories of growing up on a farm and summer in the 1970s.

 

Patio Gardening Summer 2019 Week 10-12

I’m three months into my container garden and a total of 4.5 months working on and caring for this year’s garden.  Here is what happened in the last 2 weeks–

I cut back the peony and the peony bush grew back better than ever.

I’ve spent three storms on my deck getting drenched tying up bush tomato plants.

I’ve harvested zero tomatoes but so far have about 40 green tomatoes of various sizes.

My petunia and my smaller geranium plant died.

I have harvested oregano, thyme, and rosemary four times now. I’ve made soup, roast, and spaghetti using fresh herbs this past week.

I’ve got four large tomato plants –two of which look dead. I’ve got two small tomato plants, and by small I mean 2 ft tall, and one (there was two) pepper plant that  looks promising. My succulents were cut back and they look fabulous. I bought a tropical plant at Walmart that is growing like crazy, as well as my butterfly bush which is four times bigger than when we first bought it. The butterfly bush is definitely this seasons biggest winner! I visited a lavender farm a couple of weekends ago and bought a small lavender plant. I believe it is the most expensive single plant I’ve ever purchased- $10.00, so I am really babying it 🙂

 

Until next time- be well!

Patio Gardening Summer 2019 Week 8- Week 10 🍅

It’s all about the tomatoes for the past almost three weeks!

As you can see my tomato plants are setting fruit–all various shapes due to varieties. I almost can’t remember what is what. I still have the markers in each container but no longer can get to them due to foliage. Five of my tomato plants are almost as tall as I am and each one of them has many flowers and several small tomatoes. I have two newer plants that started at 8″ on my deck and are now a foot tall. I also have one heirloom plant that hasn’t produced any flowers but I’m holding onto it just in case. I have been feeding my plants every 4-6 weeks, watering them twice sometimes three times a day, shading them, and now this past week tying them to or up against trellises and tomato stakes.

The last two weeks have been muggy, wet, partly cloudy, and windy. All total we’ve had six days of thunderstorms with high winds. I learned this week that tomato plants are pollinated by just two kinds of bees -bumblebees and sweat bees.  We used to have mud daubers, carpenter bees, and hornets flying around all the times on our deck. For the last few years its been mostly yellow jackets if we don’t pull the jam quick enough. My plants are pollinated by sweat bees, though I have self-pollinated plants throughout the years. I haven’t seen a bumble bee around here for years. Every day I watch the sweat bees land on the Thai basil, and then fly up by the lavender, and then before they fly away altogether circle around one last time and visit my tomatoes. Ten years ago when I started growing tomatoes on this deck I used to swat sweat bees believing them to be nuisances–that’s how truly clueless I once was about growing food and pollination. I feel ashamed sometimes to think just how arrogant I was about so many things to do with gardening and bees.

Everything else I’m growing is doing just fine. I have harvested basil, lemon balm, thyme, and oregano. All my flowering plants are doing well, but my lavender seems to be on its last leg. Maybe too muggy? Maybe the soil is wrong or too wet? I have two pepper plants that should produce more sweet banana peppers–I harvested one last week and there are several flowers on each plant. If they’ve been pollinated and all things go well I will take pictures of them when they start producing. There are no noticeable signs of blossom rot yet so I must have added calcium at just the right time. Fingers crossed.

That’s it for now. Here’s hoping all the gardens out there are bountiful this year!

Patio Gardening Spring 2019 Week 5- Week 7

It’s been a while folks and I’m sorry I haven’t given an update.  Gardening has been rough this year–I said it in my earlier posts and it is still true today–the weather has been horrible for my garden, and many others including the farmers, this year. Let’s take an inventory and then I’ll show you some photos of it!

I started several seedlings inside which all withered away and died waiting for the sun. My grow light did a horrible job and is now somebody else’s grow light.  When I started my patio garden I had a Purple Cherokee, 2 Rutger’s Heirloom, a patio tomato plant, a Roma tomato plant, some hens and chicks, and some strawberries. I also bought a large geranium plant, 2 small geraniums, lavender, rosemary, and thyme. Since week 3 I have added an oregano plant, another thyme, more red geraniums, and a peony plant. Plants that have died since my last post are the large geranium plant I spent $34.00 on, the Roma tomato plant, my strawberries and after blooming beautifully my peony plant. I was given an ornamental rose plant which ended up with 11 blooms and then withered away this past week. I have provided a shade cloth for my tomatoes, watered them well, fertilized them, but yet both my Purple Cherokee and the 2 Rutger’s Heirloom are doing poorly. Every day they wither and now bottom leaves are browning which makes me think root rot for the both of them. Tomorrow I am going to check how saturated their soil is and see what I can do for them. I have purchased a total of 4 more bush tomato plants, two pepper plants, and some petunias for color. My hens and chicks are doing fabulous–they’re flowering! My oregano is about two feet tall and flowering. Also, my lemon balm is triple the size and my Thai basil has big beautiful purple flowers blooming. I am letting all my herbs flower which will affect my harvesting them to eat-esp. the oregano, but I would rather the bees have it. Bees love oregano flowers!

Going into this patio garden season I saved money by reusing dirt, using compost dirt from this past year, using everything on hand for trellis/support, and reusing pots and containers from years gone by. That said so far I have spent close to $180.00 on plants, seeds, food, and the shade cloth.  Here’s hoping with more than 25 flowers on my tomatoes, bees pollinating, and my prayers they produce something.

 

My Patio Garden | Patio Gardening 2019 Week 4 🌿🍅🍅

Well, another week of barely any sun. I think we had sun on Saturday and about 30 minutes of it today–Wednesday.
Despite another week of icky weather–cold, dreary, damp, and no sun, I have a small tomato on one of my plants.
So– I have 2 Rutger’s Heirlooms-one has a tomato growing, 2 bush cherry tomato plants, 2 bush beefsteak tomato plants, and 1 purple Cherokee. I have snipped off the bottom foliage on all my plants (to prevent blight) and fed them. I recently purchased another thyme plant, Thai basil, a miniature rose, lemon balm, and a beautiful oregano plant. Tonight I made sure everything was planted in my garden, watered and fertilized. The next two days we are expecting temperatures near 80 and sun. This week I lost the Roma tomato plant and maybe soon the hydrangea?  I am trying to keep it going after its blooms died but so far it isn’t doing very well. The juniper we planted this year and the two hostas we planted last year, which are growing by our front door, are doing alright. The browning and needle loss of my evergreen are slowing down–fingers crossed. This is how it all looks this week–